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29 November 2011

Radio Amateurs Listen to Mars Science Laboratory Signal

As NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory was streaking away from Earth just seven hours after its November 26 launch, radio amateurs using the AMSAT-DL facility in Bochum, Germany eavesdropped on its 10 GHz telemetry signals.

At 21:45 UTC the spacecraft was about 70,000 miles from Earth, heading for a Martian rendezvous in August 2012. James Miller, G3RUH, remotely reconfigured the Bochum tracking and receiving system, aiming the 20-meter parabolic dish antenna toward the Mars Science Laboratory. According to Miller, the signal had a spin-modulation of +/- 3.5 Hz at 2 revolutions per minute.

The dish at Bochum is also used by AMSAT-DL to automatically receive real-time solar data from the NASA STEREO A / B satellites. The data is transmitted to a NOAA server in the USA via the Internet.

--Courtesy AMSAT-UK